Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in January

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Concert to Fight Poverty2014 is off and running! Whether you made New Year’s resolutions, intentions, goals, to dos, dreams, set a theme, or came up with guide words for the year, I hope that you included helping others in your vision.

After reading Beth Kanter’s blog post about setting a theme and choosing three words for the year (she borrowed these concepts from Peter Bregman and Chris Brogan), I chose “peace” as a theme (for myself and those around me), and for good measure repeated “peace” as one of my three words for the year, adding to it “relationships,” and “community.”

Here are five ways we can make a difference for our communities in the San Francisco Bay Area during this first month of 2014. Will you try one of these? If you do, let me know what happens. Happy New Year!

1. Fight Poverty Through Choral Music: Two South Bay churches, Trinity Cathedral and Stone Church of Willow Glen, are combining efforts to put on a Concert to Fight Poverty, 7 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 12, at Trinity Cathedral, 81 N. 2nd St., San Jose. The choral concert features Saratoga composer Henry Mollicone’s “Beatitude Mass,” sometimes called the “Mass for the Homeless.” Tickets are $20; all proceeds go to Downtown Streets Team, and Trinity Cathedral’s social good programs. Call 408-315-4354 for reservations, or purchase at the door. [Read more…]

Continuing King’s Legacy All Year: Take the MLK 25 Challenge

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After last week’s sadness over the violence in Tucson, it was good to watch thousands upon thousands of people pour their hearts into service yesterday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I am one who believes the good news far outweighs the bad, if we pay attention. Yesterday was a day to pay attention to the people who are committed to their communities, and want to leave a positive stamp on those communities.

In honor of the 25th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the people behind the National Day of Service have come up with a terrific way to extend the day into a whole year. The Corporation for National and Community Service is challenging all of us to commit to 25 acts of service in 2011. It’s called the MLK 25 Challenge. From simple acts like donating to  your local food bank, to more involved things like becoming a mentor, anything that helps make your community a better place can be part of the challenge.

If you’re scratching your head for ideas, the organization’s website has a handy checklist to get you started. See this blog’s posts from last month, when I listed 30 ideas for being a good neighbor at the holidays and beyond.

The group is encouraging anyone who takes the challenge to post their actions throughout the year on Twitter, using the #MLK25 hashtag.

Although the focus is on the Day of Service here in the U.S., Martin Luther King Jr. transcends this country. Anyone, anywhere on the planet could participate in this challenge. It would be amazing to see a Twitter feed with thousands of posts from all over the world, marking acts of kindness done in memory of MLK.

To help me remember the challenge, I’ve posted a sticky note on the side of my computer screen that says “#MLK25”. I’m starting with a small goal of remembering to take reusable bags to the market. Another small act I realized I did yesterday: I momentarily helped a neighbor try to locate a missing pet. Little things, I know, but sometimes when we start with the little things, it leads to bigger actions down the road. I like to think that even a small act, like a small raindrop in a pond of water, sends out ripples far beyond what we may even realize.

Yesterday I posted my favorite King quote:

“Returning violence for violence multiples violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Think of each act of kindness – no matter how small – as a light against the darkness. When thousands of us shine our lights of love together, the darkness cannot triumph.

What about you? Will you take the MLK 25 Challenge? What ideas do you have to help others this year?

“Hate Cannot Drive Out Hate” – Martin Luther King Jr.

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In honor of Martin Luther  King Jr. Day, I offer one of my favorite MLK quotes from his book Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community:   

“Returning violence for violence multiples violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

When I think of what Rev. King and his contemporaries accomplished by combating hate with love, I am in awe. Our basest instincts when hurt are to lash out. But King, who drew upon the teachings of Jesus, called all of us to a higher way of living. He asked us to love, even when love seems like a ridiculous response.

What I love about the quote, is the contrast between dark and light. Violence and evil exist in darkness. Love shines a light on evil, exposing it for all to see, and allowing us to stand up to what is wrong in order to bring about what is right.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to share the love light that shines when people help others, making this world a brighter place. We all have the capability to make the choice for love, not hate. By sharing stories of that love choice, it’s my hope we will all be inspired to make a similar choice in our own neighborhoods and communities.

The Christian Science Monitor is featuring a list of 10 favorite MLK quotes today. One quote talks about “good neighbors” so I had to share it here:

“The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers.” – Strength to Love

What are your favorite MLK quotes? Share them with us! Also, if you are doing anything in honor of today – like participating in a special service event, or just your own special action – please share that, too.